Category: Writing

The Best Writing Tools to Use if You are a Serious Writer

Posted December 3, 2015 by Hillary in blog, Writing / 0 Comments

The best writing software to use if you are a serious writer

A friend was asking me the other day what writing software I used. After I had thought about it, I realized that I had tried my fair share of writing and editing software. I am on a Windows computer at the moment, but I am hoping to get a Macbook Pro (I am using the powers of manifesting)  sometime shortly. I used to be really into gaming but not so much anymore hence the Dell. Most of the programs I have tried were Windows so I am not sure if they will work on a Mac. If you have any experience with the following on a  Mac, let me know in the comments!

Microsoft Word

This is what I started on when I entered college and what I have stayed with. I know many people hate Word, but I am so used to it that nothing about it bothers me. I love the editing capabilities it has. I don’t love having to save it then email it but as I have found no one program does EVERYTHING you want it to.

I also don’t love its spell check. I am a horrible, speller. I was born profoundly Deaf, but my mom was in really deep denial and stuck hearing aids on me and sent me to the local public school where we learned by the way of an ancient hooked on phonics method. It did not work out so well for me as I lacked the ability to hear even the phonics.  I can write out ideas and stuff but spell? Nope. Luckily in this day and age we have Grammarly, so I can pretend I am an excellent speller.

Aside from these two drawbacks I love Microsoft Word. I know I am in the minority on this, but I do.

Open Office

Once upon a time a friend told me that I could save my money and get Open Office that was just like Microsoft word but free. I gave it a try and promptly decided that I wasn’t broke yet enough to deal with it and went out and bought the newest version of Word.

I like to be fair so I will agree that it gets the job done. If you are broke, and the person is demanding a “Word like” document then yes, Open Office is your friend. It types and saves and it will open in Word. Most of the time.

Open Office spell check however, leaves a lot to be desired. I tried it, and no matter how many times I ran the spelling and grammar check I felt that my paper still looked and sounded like ass.

Second it will most of the time open in word IF the person saved it correctly. And you can imagine when a classmate would ask me to go over their paper, and they had not saved it in the correct format and that entailed a lot of back and forth trying to get the damn thing to open. I am a nice person, so I would do it but imagine you are sending an article to a busy editor. I guarantee you that if they cant open your document it is going in the trash file.


I LOVE SCRIVENER! I wished I had this program in college. I have mild ADHD so I do best when I can break down the writing into parts. I can make a mind map on Freemind then import it and work on the project in bits and prices then compile it, and it turns out to be a damn good document.

It also has loads of other features that are too many to go in here. I don’t even know what they all are, and I have been using it for a year. I bought a Scrivener course a while back. I should make time to watch it.


I found out only a couple weeks ago that you could type in Evernote then import it into Scrivener. Evernote is on every device known to man. You can even get it to work on Linux, so If you are out and about and want to work on your masterpiece you can type into Evernote and later import it. This blew my mind so hard.

I push this program on everyone who wants to be taken seriously as a writer. I have convinced many friends to buy this software, and everyone has loved it. After they have figured out what all it can do. I know many people hate the idea of learning software that you have to take a course  on just to know everything but it is worth it.

It only downside is that far too few people have this software and editors won’t take a Scrivener file, so you have to compile it into a Word document. But for everything it does it is a must have program.

Google Docs

I have a love-hate relationship with Google Docs. So many website editors want the “file” in a Google Docs thingie. I love it that I can just hit share and off it goes with editing capabilities to the editor and then it comes back, and you can fix it right there. And with the browser extension, Grammarly will work with it.

The downside is I don’t really write in a linear fashion. For example, with this article I have it broken up into ten different sections in Scrivener and I am hopping back and forth as the ideas come. If I tried that with a google doc, it would end up looking disjointed, and I would probably never get another writing assignment again. For ME, it is only good after I am ready to send it, and I copy and paste it and send it off. If you can write in a linear fashion, then I highly admire you, and you can probably skip everything and just write in Docs.


My computer was in the shop, and I borrowed a friend’s Mac and he had something called Pages on it that he claimed was “the same as word but on a Mac” umm no, it is not. Not even close. I hated that program. The pages did not break so I had no idea how many pages I had written, and it did not even have a word counter. If you are a professional writer that word counter is a must have. Editors have different word counts, and if you go over then you will just get it back with instructions to trim it but without knowing how many words you have how are you supposed to do that?

I think Pages spelling and grammar check was made by a third grader, there is no way to import seamlessly anything from Evernote. There is no way just to send it to someone, AND I couldn’t find a way to save it as a word file. I ended up copying and pasting the entire article into google docs.

I would never use this program again.


Of all the programs I have tried, I always end up with Scrivener, Microsoft Word and when I have to, Google docs. I feel as if I have set up a workflow with these that are as seamless and as painless as possible so that I can focus more on writing. I did not include Evernote in this because that is more of a scratchpad kind of thing for me. If I am doing a huge chunk of writing, I am on my computer and not on a tablet or my phone.


What are some of your must-have programs? I know every writer is different, so I am looking forward to hearing what yours are in the comments!

My Writing Process

Posted October 28, 2015 by Hillary in Writing / 2 Comments

my writing process

One of the things that I love to do is to ask other writers about their writing process. I have a strict one that enables me to turn out good copy, but I am always wondering there is something that I could do to tweak my as to how I write so today I will spill the beans.

I IM the person om Skype. I am Deaf so I can’t use  the voice function. I like to talk to the person for at least an hour to get the tone of their voice and to try and sound like a better version of them.

A lot of people send me drafts of things they have into mind what they are trying to say and then come up with a better way of saying things.

If I am starting from scratch, then I make an outline in until I have the whole thing. I have found that this way I write better than if I just attempted to write it perfectly from being to end the first time.

I am a big believer in what Anne Lamont calls “shitty first drafts.” I used to have terrible writers block until I started telling myself that the first draft does not matter cause only I will see it. This has helped alleviate a lot of the writers block that I have. I will write my shitty first draft then I will leave it alone for a day or two then come back to it and work on it some more. People who only see the final draft tell me that I write well. What they don’t know is that what I show them is usually my fourth or fifth draft of I have written. I believe that shitty first drafts perfectly all the time and on the first try then, I will drafts.

After I am satisfied that all my ideas are out, then I will compile it all and import the document into Microsoft three times then I will revise it again and again until I am satisfied. This can take up to three days. If it is a really important document, such as one I hope to get published, then I will ask some friends to proofread it for me. If it is for a look-over and then turn it in.

I give everyone one free revision so if there is anything I missed or the client wants to be added I write that in then again I give it a final look over and run it through Grammarly and give the client the final draft. The whole process can take up to two weeks. I know other writers who work faster, but I am a big believer in quality over quantity. This method has worked well for me.



How to Pick the Perfect Copywriter

Posted July 29, 2015 by Hillary in blog, Writing / 0 Comments

how to pick the p[erfect copywriter

So, there you are chewing over words. You want to make it perfect and to make people want to buy your thing. You decided that as a health coach or something else you need a copywriter. If you have never worked with a copywriter before, it can be hard to decide on one. Where do you start? How do you pick one? Never fear for I am here to help!
The first thing you need to do is to look at the copywriter and see if your styles match. Everyone has a unique voice when writing. The best way to do this is to look at the copywriters website and see if you like what you see. If they have a blog, how they write is most often how your copy will look and sound. A skilled copywriter CAN change the voice, but it is really hard. There will always be a remnant of the primary voice in everyone’s writing. So make sure you REALLY love their writing style.
If you are unsure of if you like their style or not you can always email and ask them for samples. Any copywriter worth their salt will gladly email you back with the requested samples.
Do you want a general copywriter or a specialist?
A general copywriter can be cheaper, but they lack in depth knowledge of a field. I am not saying that they are horrible just that if you are a non-profit looking for someone to write up a grant, then they may not have the necessary skills YET to really make it shine.
A specialist is often someone who has worked in the field and has in depth knowledge about it. Whether it be finance, non-profits or medical or another field. They have often have lots of experience and education invested in what they are doing. This can account for the higher price they often command.
How do you want the copy to be presented? As a brochure? A web page? Mail in cards? Different copywriters have different skills. Some work with blogs, some work with business sales letters. Most copywriters can do multiple things so you should not be afraid to ask. Different mediums require different things. A blog may need to have SEO research. A sales letter may need to have interviews conducted for the final copy.
After you have narrowed down what you need, you can start to look at copywriters that may be a good fit for you. It may take some trial and error to find your perfect one, but when you do, you will be glad you did.

5 Ways To Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Posted July 9, 2015 by Hillary in blog, Writing / 4 Comments


creativeWe have all been there. We know we need to write that blog post or newsletter. We open up a fresh Word document and…..nada. Our brain is one big empty blank space. I have always wondered why I could come up with ideas when it is inconvenient but when I sit down and I am ready to write it is like my brain seizes up and everything I type looks and sounds like crap. Yes, I make a living doing this and I feel this way all…the..time. I asked other writer friends and they admitted that this happens to them. We have all heard the stories of writers who get drunk and drugged up to bang out stuff, but I wanted to avoid that road. Jack Kerouac, I am not. So below is the list I compiled that helps me get past that “block” and get to writing.

Change your environment

There are days when I start to feel like that dude from The Shining and my brain is all screaming GET ME OUT OF HERE! So I pack up my computer and head to either a coffee shop or the library. This works wonders most of the time.

Go For a Walk

I resisted this for a long time because I am the laziest human being ever. Then one day I had Awful writers block and I thought I will try it and see. After I had got into the groove, my brain loosened up and started working again.  So now I go on lots of walks and they HELP A LOT!

Hash it out with a trusted friend

Sometimes two heads are better than one. If I am not clear on an idea I will talk it out with a friend and get feedback. I just joined a mastermind and it is helping.  I can tell you from experience that being isolated is a creativity killer

Hop in the shower

I seem to get all my best ideas when I am in the shower. I finally bought an Aqua board so that I could write them down. My brain seems to forget ideas really quickly so I try and have a capture device with me at all times.

Give your brain a break

If you try everything else and you still can’t get the idea wheel rolling then go read a book, bake a cake or hang out with a friend. Sometimes your brain needs a break and once you stop thinking about the idea so much then your brain will work on it and it will come to you.


Tools I use to run a Successful Freelance Writing Bussiness

Posted June 9, 2015 by Hillary in blog, blogging, freelancing, Writing / 2 Comments





This is the best thing ever! I waited a long time before purchasing this. I am still not sure how I managed to go so long without this tool. It allows me to do so much. For example. I like to look at my notes while I write and this enables me to do that. I can also keep everything separated into its own project. No more mixing up client files on Microsoft word!


I use this to make mind maps when I need. Or as a brain dump to gather my ideas for a project


I would be lost without Evernote. I use this to write down writing ideas and to keep all my notes in one place. I have it on all of my devices so if an idea or inspiration strikes all I have to do it type it in. Plus I can start blog posts with it and have them on all the devices I own.

Microsoft Office

I tried all the free alternatives, but none of them really stuck with me. I broke down and bought a subscription. It is worth the six dollars every month.

iPhone 6 Plus

I had an iPhone 4 for the longest time. I was due for an upgrade so I thought I would treat myself to an iPhone 6 plus. It is one of the best investments I have made this year. I am not sure why I thought every successful blogger should have this phone, but I did. One of the biggest advantages is that I can use my P3 Video relay with it. With is a big screen and 4 G capbitlies I can use it anywhere. Also when I call people I prefer to use my own voice and I can with this program and it does not sound like it is through a bad speakerphone like it does on the computer. At least that is what my family tells me. They better not be lying!


I discovered this, this year. It is a lifesaver. It has EVERYTHING into one program. The only thing I don’t like is the banking program it has, but that is probably cause I don’t know how to use it very well. I will have to spend some more time trying to figure it out.


I use this to keep up with blogs. I have a shit ton of blogs I read so this really helps. Reading blogs is primarily how I get ideas for my own blogs. I love how Feedly works so well I pay for the pro version.


I have a lot of passwords to remember plus I suck at coming up with passwords as it became evident after a creepy ex hacked into some of my accounts. I use this to generate passwords and to store them. I also love their form filler out thingie. No more typing my information in hundreds of times just to leave a comment on a blog.

Remember the Milk

I know an LOT of people swear by Asana and Trello and the like, but I am old school here and swear by Remember the Milk. I love that it ties into Siri on my Iphone so I can just say remind me to blah blah and it will AND it shows up everywhere I have the app installed. MAGIC


As a freelance content writer, it is important that I make everything look perfect. I really dislike the program that comes with Microsoft Word. I feel this is a thousand times better.

Google Apps

I prefer to have all my information in the cloud so I can access it anywhere. I use it to store client files my own files and to use google hangouts and all of that.


What are some tools that you cant live without? Share in the comments!


Important Things

Posted June 2, 2015 by Hillary in Writing / 0 Comments

I have read countless people that have said that you need to protect your creative time. It has been said that this is one of the most important things you can do. I learned this the hard way last week. My Dr had told me that some of my blood work had come back abnormal and wanted more tests done to rule out anything more serious. I called and made the appointment for those tests. I am NOT a morning person. I have never been able to function mentally at my best in the morning. That is why I save all my writing until about 1 pm. I also tend to make appointments during this time. However, now that I am writing seriously I have figured out that my peak creative time is between 1 and 6 pm. In hindsight, I should have made my appointments in the morning then grabbed some lunch and settled in to write but that is not what I did. I stupidly made my appointments for the afternoon during my prime creative time and instead of writing up my masterpieces I was running around getting tests done. By the time I got home I was usually too flustered to accomplish much of anything and I did what no freelancer wants to do. I fell behind.

This made me even more flustered and nervous and it was a cycle from hades that seem to be ongoing and never ending. On Friday, I sat myself down and tried to figure out the problem. Once I identified that I was “wasting” creative time on other things that could be done at other times of the day I blocked that time off my calendar and now that time is sacred. I will write from 1 to 6 and nothing else.

I am learning that I have to take control of my time or people and things will attempt to steal that time from me. As a freelance writer I am expected to turn out my best work on a daily basis so it is imperative that I do whatever it takes to remain “in the zone” so that I can churn out quality writing on a regular basis.

It turned out that there was nothing seriously wrong with me. And I worked hard all weekend and am now all caught up. However, I will never again as long as I am writing let anything or anyone interrupt my sacred writing time. I will put my phone in do not disturb mode use Anti-Social and Freedom to block out distractions online when I need to. No matter what Monday-Friday between 1 and 6 pm I will park my ass in my chair and write. No more excuses.

Change is hard….

Posted April 12, 2015 by Hillary in Writing / 0 Comments

Last week I quit smoking. In the grand scheme of things, this does not seem to be significant. Many people are quitting this habit almost every day. Myself, I have tried to quit a few times, and this year I made the decision that I wanted to get my health back. I went to the Dr. told her my woes and walked out with a prescription for Chantix. After I listened to seemly dire warnings that if I started to feel homicidal or suicidal to stop taking it and call the number they gave me. I asked, half-jokingly, how am I supposed to know if the homicidal feelings are from the pill or from not smoking? The pharmacist was not amused.

I followed directions and on the 8th day I forced myself to throw the rest of my cigarettes in the garbage chute so there was no way I would dig them out of my trash can when I got desperate. I am not going to lie, the first few days were rough. I got through them somehow and  the cravings calmed down and I sat down to write.

And found I couldn’t.

I mean the words were in my head but it seemed that without me literally lighting a fire up my ass I couldn’t get the words to flow out onto my computer. I had read of other writers facing the same thing when they gave up alcohol or some other addiction. Something about using that substance to move past the fear that seems to plague every writer.

I found this to be true. I used cigarettes and food to stuff down my feelings. I spoke with other writer friends and they all told me that they have some unhealthy rituals to move past their fear of writing crap. A fear I understand all too well.

I am now looking for a way forward past this fear. I want ultimately to be a HEALTHY writer. Being able to take off for the tropics on moments notice to write in sunshine and endless margaritas. To do this, I need to replace all of my bad habits with healthy ones. I have a whole list that I am going to try. It includes but is not limited to, meditation, prayer, yoga, walking and other stuff as I think about and will add to the list.

I am also going to do the Artist Way. I have had the book forever but have yet to start it. I am going to start it today. The authour Julia Cameron says she started the Artist Way when she became sober. She had to find a way to write sober and she did. And I will. And so will you.

When books cross over into real life.

Posted March 22, 2011 by Hillary in blogging, ramblings, reading, self help, Writing / 0 Comments

When most people read it is to escape reality and to delve into a good story. However there are some books that propose to provide a richer life out side of books. Flow was such a book. I reviewed it a while ago and one thing has stuck out to me in all of that time. It mentioned that chess players engage in physical activity to strengthen their mind. At first, I was like, how can that help strengthen your brain? My laziness knows no bounds. I will be the first to try and get out of anything resembling purposeful movement.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. My attention was waning and my writers block was so bad that I could hardly write my own name. I had heard of writers and other people say that daily exercise cures both aliments. Of course up until then I never actually listened.Then one month into my writers block, when I despaired of ever writing anything again I decided to give walking a try. It wasn’t the magic cure all but slowly it was as my brain was disengaging itself and starting to function again,ideas began to come and I can focus for more than an hour at a time.

What amazes me is that the more I exercise my body the stronger my brain becomes.And not only that but I have really really realllly bad anxiety and it get in the way of writing also. Walking has helped more than medication has ever did. Plus it does not put me to sleep.

And to think I would have never even thought of adding in walking had I not read a book about inducing happiness first. When people say they dislike reading or do not have the time for it, I always remind them that they will be richer and better off for it. There is so much to learn out there. Even fiction can teach you valuable things through the power of a good story.

What are your rituals before writing?

Posted September 21, 2010 by Hillary in Writing / 0 Comments

A friend of mine who also loves to write and I were talking about how we couldn’t just sit down and write. We each have our own routine that we go through to get our minds ready to write. I for one cant just sit down and write well. A professor once told me that it is akin to a marathoner. A runner cant wake up and run 10 miles. They have to warm up first. So it is with writing.

As for me I have to be properly caffeinated first. My brain simply wont work without obscene amounts of caffeine. I have tried giving up caffeine before but I would rather go through the seventh circle of hell then have to function without it, After all there is a reason it is called the nectar of the Gods. I prefer to think of caffeine in all of its varieties as a buffet table to pick and choose as a sort of a gift from the powers that be to help us through the more mundane things in life.

To get my brain in shape to write coherently I will often write in my journal first. I currently use Penzu. Once the words start flowing then I will switch to whatever writing project I am working on. That could be a poem or a short story that has popped in my head or anything in between.

If it’s a good writing day then I can write for hours. However if my brain for whatever reason is not cooperating that day then I tend to “rest’ and go read. It is funny how when you thinks the words have ran out then you start reading and another idea will come to you.

My friend said he goes through something similar. However he has no use for massive amounts of stimulants. I know I cant be the only one who needs caffeine to function.

I am now interested in what other people go through to get ready to pen that days masterpiece. I will have to go to the library and see if there are any books on what famous authors through the ages have engaged in.

I am now curious what do you my readers do to get ready for writing? Tell me in the comments below.

The Sunday Salon

Posted September 5, 2010 by Hillary in reading, Sunday Salon, Writing / 3 Comments


Did fall come early this year? Now the leaves are turning beautiful colors and it gets cooler faster when I go outside with my laptop to write.  Fall is good for having an excuse to stay in and curl up with a good book.

I am going back up north next Sunday so I will have to finish reading five more library books before then. I think I can do it. I will hunker down and do nothing but read this week.

At the moment I am reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I have to admit when I first saw the cover I thought it was a young adult book, but then I read the reviews and realized it was not. So much for my ability to judge a book by its cover.

Here is the link that I found that states that the novel Heart Of Darkness is going to be turned into a graphic novel. I am hesitant to pass judgment until I see the actual book but my first though was, how can such a substantial novel be turned into a glorified comic book? Can you tell I am not a big fan of graphic novels?

I have found that as I get older my body clock seems to be changing. I don’t know why people didn’t warn me about all the changes one encounters at 30. Used to be my best writing was at night. Now its early in the morning so I had to adjust my writing and reading schedule.

I have reviewed Push, A Purpose Driven Life and Pain killers this week.